Zooming down powdery slopes is an ideal way to burn calories during the winter months. Navigating the course safely, avoiding other skiers and snowboarders, and ensuring your own safety are things to consider when participating in winter sports.
In addition to falls and collisions, injuries from improper equipment and poor training can happen to skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels. The experts at UPMC Sports Medicine understand the importance of training before, during, and after hitting the slopes, as well as the importance of rehabilitating an injury before returning to the sport.
Learn more information at UPMC Sports Medicine.
Common Ski and Snowboard Injuries
As with any type of sport, there is a chance of injury while skiing or snowboarding. Some situations in which injuries can occur include:
- Ignoring posted warning signs for dangerous areas
- Ill-fitting or improper equipment
- Invisible hazards or weather conditions
- Skiing/snowboarding on trails above your skill level
- Skiing/snowboarding for long periods of time without adequate rest and hydration
- Ski-lift injuries
Even experienced skiers and snowboarders who are properly equipped and follow the rules of the course can be injured. Common skiing or snowboarding injuries include:
- Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears or strains
- Head injuries, including concussions
- Neck injuries, including whiplash and neck strain
- Sprained knee
- Shoulder dislocations or fractures
- Spinal injuries
- Wrist and hand injuries
Concussions or other head injuries happen when skiers or snowboarders collide with others on the slopes or veer off course and into a tree or other obstacle. Shoulder dislocations and fractures are possible during falls and collisions. Wrist and hand injuries can result from skiers or snowboarders putting too much pressure on a wrist or hand when trying to catch themselves during a fall.
Torn ligaments often happen when skiers and snowboarders twist and turn suddenly, fall awkwardly, or catch a ski or the board on something.
Preventing Skiing and Snowboarding Injuries
To ensure safety, it’s important for skiers and snowboarders to have a firm understanding of the sport’s rules and guidelines. Signs are posted on trails designating their difficulty. When trying out a new trail or course, start on one with a lower degree of difficulty before moving on to more challenging trails, regardless of your skill level.
Skiers and snowboarders should be sure that they are comfortable with all aspects of the ski area, including the ski lift. Injuries on the ski lift commonly occur when skiers and snowboarders:
- Do not understand the proper way to enter or exit the ski lift
- Do not lower the safety bar
- Collide with other skiers/snowboarders when exiting the ski lift
Last, it’s best to be in good physical condition before skiing or snowboarding to help avoid injuries. This includes cardiovascular fitness, strength training, and flexibility, which can be included in your regular exercise routine.
Equipped for Success on the Slopes
As in any sport, proper equipment and clothing will help prevent injuries and improve performance when skiing or snowboarding. Follow these tips to stay safe in the elements:
- Dress in layers
- Wear clothing that’s wind resistant
- Wear hats or headbands
- Wear gloves or mittens
- Wear goggles or sunglasses with 100 percent UV protection
- Use sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher
In addition to proper clothing, the right equipment is needed when skiing and snowboarding. This includes:
- Bindings that fit properly on the feet
- Helmets (especially important for younger and less experienced skiers)
- Skis and poles that are fitted to the skier’s size and ability
Getting Back on the Slopes with UPMC
If an injury does occur, the experts at UPMC Sports Medicine can help you get back on the slopes with an individualized treatment and management plan specific to your goals.